Timber Frame Workshop

Tier 1

Rebuilding the 19th century South Yard at Montpelier

Join Montpelier's historians and master craftsman for hands-on history to recreate one of our early 19th century timber frame slave quarter duplexes in the South Yard on the actual site that the building once stood.  Participants will spend a week learning woodworking and joinery techniques that were used in Madison's era, take part in lectures on the history of the building, and do site tours with archaeologists and historians.  Skills you will learn at the jobsite include: hewing and sawing the timbers for the building, splitting shingles, drawknifing and planing boards, and many other tasks needed for the full reconstruction of the structures in the South Yard.  

In previous programs, participants have reconstructed two cabins at two separate sites lived in by Madison's field slaves and skilled artisans, which we found via archaeological excavations.   In 2014, we reconstructed Granny Milly's log cabin home adjacent to the mansion grounds. Please see the following link for more information on that reconstruction.

The next Reconstruction Program will be scheduled during the 2017 season!

During this week participants will learn joinery, splitting of shingles, drawknifing, handplaning boards, and general carpentry skills to rebuild one of the early 19th century timber frame slaves quarters on the mansion grounds.

In the event of inclement weather, we have the facilities to hold this course indoors. During the first program we ran, we switched back and forth between outdoor venues and our large new maintenance building.

While participating in the program, you will stay in the antebellum plantation house, “Arlington House,” or for those wanting private rooms, there are other housing options at Montpelier and at local B&Bs.

For more information about how to participate in this program, please contact Matthew Reeves, Director of Archaeology and Landscape Restoration, at dig@montpelier.org or (540) 672-2728 x 161.



For more information, please click on the following link for our program packet:

Download program information packet.


Plans for slave duplex timber frame structure to be built in Fall 2015. Drawing by Jobie Hill and Jennifer Glass.